Not since 1066 have we been invaded by Vikings. Then King Harold saw them off before meeting his nemesis, William the Conqueror. This time they are invading Wembley.
This Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings are playing American football there but that won’t be all you’ll be hearing about. Twenty-four Minnesotans have invaded our shores to market the state to us. The Mayors of the Minneapolis and St Paul are talking business deals with our companies and their tourism people have tagged along to talk to travel agents, tour operators, and the media so that you will hear a lot about the benefits of a holiday in the state.
The first reason why you should consider holidaying in the state is that there are direct flight links on Delta. (North West Airlines in the old days.) The airport in Minneapolis-St Paul is quick to get through. The entry queues that you get at Orlando, New York, Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles usually don’t exist. The airport holds my record for the fastest time it took me to get off the plane and go through formalities before catching my hotel shuttle bus – just under 5 minutes. Admittedly I was one of the first off the plane and I had only hand luggage. Nonetheless, that will take some beating.
Secondly, there is a light railway costing just $1.75 to take you into either of the twin cities. Or for the same fare you can go to Bloomington where the Mall of America is and you’ll find over 520 shops plus a Nickelodeon children’s area give parents the chance to shop whilst letting the kids play. Generally, prices at designer shops and regular stores are 50% cheaper than they are in the UK and Ireland and even 10-15% cheaper than New York or Florida.
Thirdly, within a few miles of the airport, you can be either in one of the two cities or you can be strolling around the lakes nearby or even fishing in them. When the season starts even the governor of the state is out there looking for walleye or sockeye salmon. You can canoe in the morning and visit museums or shops downtown in the afternoon or vice-versa. Cycle paths are everywhere so you don’t need a car to get around if you don’t want one.
Then there is the food. It can be a mixture of American with a St. Paul slant like a Juicy Lucy hamburger where the meat is hollowed out and cheddar cheese is placed inside so that it oozes out when you bite in. And there is a strong Scandinavian influence in both the food and the culture as this part of the United States had lots of migrants from different Scandinavian countries.
That’s why the football team is called the Vikings. But this time the invasion will be a quieter, less troublesome affair. Apart from at Wembley, that is!